Thursday , May 24, 2018

Surviving Caramoan

THE town of Caramoan in Camarines Sur has been one of the favorite locations of international reality TV show Survivor. Since then, more and more local travelers head towards this part of Bicol to see the raw beauty of what this part of the Philippines can offer.

Getting to Caramoan is quite a challenge. But on the flipside, it is a good thing in itself because it also becomes a natural way of keeping throngs of people to crowd the place. We endured around 10 hours on the road by bus from Manila to Naga. We had to camp out at the bus station in Cubao late at night just to make sure we get some bus seats for the early morning trip.

And while on the road, our bus had a flat tire. It wasn’t entirely a smooth journey and we were exhausted as we arrived in Naga City. We spent the night in Naga and started very early the morning towards Sabang port, which was an hour and a half ride by shuttle van.

It was funny as we got to the port because passengers, along with the bags and other luggage, were being carried on the shoulders of porters.

The boats were far from the port because it was low tide. Cramped inside the boat, the sea travel to Guijalo port was about two hours. And if you think the trip ended when we docked at Guijalo, no, we still had to do a land trip to get to the main town of Caramoan.

No wonder it was chosen as a location for Survivor. We stayed in one of the inns in the busiest section of the town. After checking in and taking our meals, we again took a tricycle that brought us to Binkal port. It was from there where we took our boat for the island-hopping adventure.

Gigantic limestone rocks that seemed to be floating on sea dotted on our horizon. The fog provided a mystical feel and the waters appeared to be still. Fishermen were out for some catch and they waved at us as we zoomed past them.

We passed by Gota Beach, which was the location of the French Survivor. But we didn’t go there. Instead, we went to Matukad Island, where there was only a single hut, no other amenities but only nature. The sand was smooth and there were no other people there except us and two men that seemed to be guarding the island.

Time seemed to stand still at Matukad as we swam and floated at sea and climbed the rocks. I basked in the warmth of the sun and the tranquility of the place. The long journey from Manila to that point suddenly became somewhat trivial compared to the beauty that Caramoan has to offer. We had our lunch in the island (we didn’t leave anything behind though) and proceeded to our next stop.

The afternoon was spent lazily at Big-ang Beach where campers were building their tents. The mountains at the backdrop, the rocks strewn by the sea, and a rainbow at the horizon were the perfect combination of scenery that spells paradise. Before the sun was about to set, we made our way back to Binkal port and to our inn where we spent the night.

The day after, I woke up early to prepare for our journey back to Naga. The morning fog covered the landscape like a blanket. It was another long trip to take and part of me wished we could stay a few more days to enjoy the quiet life in this side of the Philippines.

Nevertheless, we were glad we survived it through and were able to enjoy the picturesque landscape of our destination. But I think, apart from the majesty of the place, it was the difficulty of the journey that lures more and more travelers to Caramoan. And many proved that they, too, survived the challenge of getting there.

All photos are by this author. Claire Marie Algarme blogs at Follow her as @firsttimetravel on Twitter and Instagram and like her Facebook page First-time Travels blog.